Posts Tagged ‘Private Health Insurance’

Bernie Sanders Launches ‘Medicare for All’ Plan in US

April 11, 2019

Great news from across the Pond. According to today’s I for Thursday, 11th April 2019, the left-wing Democrat senator, Bernie Sanders, has launched his ‘medicare for all’ scheme to replace America’s current insurance-driven healthcare system with one in which the American state would pay people’s medical fees. The I’s report, ‘Sanders launches ‘healthcare for all’ plan, on page 25 runs

The US presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders revealed his “Medicare for All” plan yesterday, shaking up the 2020 election by reopening the debate over his call to eliminate private health insurance.

Four of the senators who are rivalling Mr Sanders for the Democratic Party nomination are set to sign on to the updated single-payer healthcare proposal. The bill’s reintroduction promises to shine a light on Democratic presidential candidates’ disparate visions for the long-term future of American healthcare.

Some Democratic contenders, including former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, have criticized Sanders’ measure, which they say is political infeasible.

Under Medicare for All, Americans would no longer pay premiums or face insurance deductibles as the government-run system replaced private health insurance offered through employers.

This really is what America needs. Badly. Something like 20 per cent of all Americans can’t afford medical insurance, and, according to the statistics cited by Sanders in his book, Our Revolution, every year 40,000 Americans die because they can’t afford medical treatment. In some parts of the US, people are hoarding medicine because they have difficult affording it, and even use medicines prescribed by vets for animals. They’re even heading over the border to Mexico for dental treatment because it’s much, much cheaper over there. And medical bills are the leading cause of bankruptcy in the Land of the Free. The progressive American Left have been wondering for a long time why it is that the other nations of the Developed World can afford universal healthcare, but American can’t.

Opposing him, naturally, is the American private healthcare industry, the Republicans, and the Corporate, Clintonite Democrats. I think Hillary Clinton said several times that the country couldn’t afford state medicine, parroting the ideas of the Republicans. And if she didn’t say, her daughter, Chelsea, certainly did. And over here, the Tories and Blairite Labour, as well as the ‘Centrist’ Change UK, also want to privatise the NHS. Blair’s health secretary, Alan Milburn, wanted to see the NHS reduced to a kitemark on services provided by private healthcare providers. I don’t think Bernie Sanders wants to nationalize the American healthcare system. He just wants the state to pay for its citizens’ healthcare, as Germany has done for its people since Bismarck’s ‘Socialist Law’ of 1871 or so. And one of the reasons that there has been such opposition in British politics to Jeremy Corbyn is because he has promised to renationalize the NHS. Corbyn’s policies are massively popular, which is why the Right, both within and outside the Labour Party, has been reduced to smearing him as a Communist, or a supporter of Irish Republican terrorism – as we’ve seen from the Tories, the Right considers Loyalist terrorists perfectly acceptable – and now a raging anti-Semite, despite the plentiful evidence to the contrary.

The NHS is being destroyed before us, and if this continues, we will reach a situation like America, where it’s increasingly unaffordable to all but the very affluent. We need Jeremy Corbyn in No. 10 in Britain, and Bernie Sanders over in America. A transatlantic partnership that would roll back the horrors of neoliberalism, and start giving working people in both countries the healthcare they need and deserve.

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Video for My Book against the Privatisation of the NHS

February 19, 2019

This is the video I’ve just put up on my channel on YouTube for my book Privatisation: Killing the NHS, which I’ve published with Lulu. Here’s the blurb I’ve put up for it:

In this book, also published with Lulu, I talk about the programme of stealth privatisation of the National Health Service that has been going on since Margaret Thatcher first proposed its sell off in the 1980s. This was followed by John Major’s Private Finance Initiative, then Blair’s health reforms, all of which opened up the NHS to private health care companies. Blair was followed by David Cameron and then by Theresa May, who have continued and expanded this process.

The intention is to create a system like America’s, where healthcare is through private companies, financed through private health insurance, although the state also pays for medical treatment for the poorest through Medicare and Medicaid. The book explains how private medicine is less effective than state medicine, and how these reforms threaten to return us to the dreadful period before the foundation of the NHS, when a similar situation to the American prevailed in Britain.

The book is 42 pages long, and costs £5.25.

Here’s the Lulu page for it:

http://www.lulu.com/shop/david-sivier/privatisation-killing-the-nhs/paperback/product-22828232.html

Labour’s Powerful Pro-NHS Ad

February 13, 2019

Okay, a few moments ago I caught part of the Labour party’s new party political ad powerfully defending the NHS and attacking Tweezer and the Tories for its privatization. It featured actors taking the part of patients, doctors and hospital visitors talking about the perilous and shameful state the heath service is in thanks to the Tories’ cuts and privatization campaign. Interspersed with these were truly terrifying statistics. Like 7 million cancelled operations last year, the closure of 450 GP’s surgeries, £9 billion worth of contracts given to private healthcare firms, £7 billion cut from NHS budgets since 2010, and teenage suicides up by 50 per cent. And although the parts were played by actors, the stories they told were real. One doctor talked about how upsetting it was that she had to send parents half way across the country so that their child’s eating disorder could be treated. The various patients featured in the broadcast spoke about hospital overcrowding and patients being left in corridors. They spoke of their disgust that this was happening in one of the richest countries in the world. One black lad, playing a hospital visitor, said how he was most disgusted by nurses running down the corridor, having to rush out and pay a parking meter so that people could visit their loved ones in hospital. The black woman doctor said how she had heard fair words about treating mental health, but the reality was that social care budgets were being slashed all the time. They also lamented how people were being sent to hospital casualty departments because they couldn’t see their doctor.

And the advert said openly what this was all really about, but what the Tories are desperate to hide from us. One of the patients declared that this was about the Tories’ selling off the health service to their friends.

The Tories deny it, of course, but this is the truth. It’s laid out very clearly in a number of books, like NHS SOS, edited by Jacky Davis and Raymond Tallis (London: One World 2013).

I’ve also written a short book describing how the Tories – and Blair’s New Labour – have been determined to sell off the NHS, Privatisation: Killing the NHS, available from Lulu, price £5.25. See here for details: http://www.lulu.com/shop/david-sivier/privatisation-killing-the-nhs/paperback/product-22828232.html

I’ve got a few copies here, so if anyone wants one, let me know and I’ll post them to you. The cost will be as stated plus that of postage.

Labour’s pro-NHS advert is one that desperately needed to be made. It could have come from the NHS Action party, which was formed when Blair started privatizing the NHS and closing hospitals, following the political and economic ideology of his heroine, Maggie Thatcher. It’s great that the party that founded the NHS, the party of Clement Attlee and Nye Bevan, should now have returned to its socialist roots and pledging to end its privatization and give it some real, proper funding.

But this was always the policy of Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters in the Labour party. I found this short video from RT’s Going Underground on YouTube, put up on January 19th, 2019. It shows a woman, who is then joined by a man, walking through a suburban residential district, while Corbyn’s voice intones about a country that believes in fairness, in shared ideals, while they walk past a street named after Clement Attlee.

Rattansi was also discussing the massive defeat that day of Tweezer’s motion on Brexit, the biggest defeat for a post-War prime minister. It shows one MP saying in the debate that the chamber was once the seat of Clement Attlee and Winston Churchill. Now it’s just a farce.

From that, Rattansi goes to talk about the late British WWII hero, Harry Leslie Smith, who made it very clear that he supported Jeremy Corbyn. This is followed by a clip from what looks like Channel 4 News when, speaking from Ontario, Canada, Smith said that Corbyn reminded him of Clement Attlee in 1945, and he thought that if Corbyn put his shoulder to the wheel he’d change England for the better, just like Attlee did. Which to my eyes doesn’t seem to go down terribly well with the presenter, who appears to purse her lips tightly and suppress a smirk when he says this.

I’ve no doubt that over the following days and weeks we’ll get the Tories claiming that they’re putting more money into the NHS than ever before, loudly deny that they’re privatizing it and declare that they’re going to increase funding.

It’s all lies.

Mike in his articles has taken apart these claims, showing that budgets are still being slashed, despite the Tories’ statement that they will increase funding and Tweezer’s vaunted vision of the NHS for the next decade.

Just like Thatcher’s claim that ‘the NHS is safe with us’ was a lie, when in 1987 she was very much thinking about privatizing it, and then under John Major the Private Finance Initiative was introduced with the connivance of American insurance fraudster, Unum, in order to open it up to private industry.

I’ve also no doubt that we’ll be hearing more screams about how Labour is viciously anti-Semitic, or that Jeremy Corbyn is losing young voters because of his stance on Brexit. More lies and slurs, as you’d expect from the Blairites in the Labour party, who are utterly complicit in the Thatcherite privatization programme, and the Tory establishment and media outside.

The reality is that the Tories are determined to privatise the NHS, and with a few rare exceptions, the lamestream media has been complicit in it. There’s an entire chapter in the Davis and Tallis book describing how the Beeb actively promoted the Health Service’s privatization.

Don’t be taken in by the Tories and Blairite’s lies and smears. Only Jeremy Corbyn can be relied on to save the NHS, and so it’s vitally important to support him in the Labour party and get him into No.10 and Tweezer out.

Tory Health Minister Matt Hancock Receiving Donations from NHS Privatisation Think Tank

February 2, 2019

On Monday Mike published a very interesting piece revealing that Matt Hancock, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, has been receiving donations of between 2,000 and 4,000 pounds after his election in 2010. The donor is one Neil Record, a currency manager. Who is also the head of the board of the Institute of Economic Affairs. The IEA is one of the key think tanks behind Thatcher’s programme of privatizing everything that isn’t nailed down, and destroying the welfare state. All for the benefit of private industry, of course. It is very firmly behind the privatization of the NHS, and the IEA is campaigning to introduce a private medical service funded by private health insurance, as in the US. Where their system has broke down to such a level that 40,000 each year die because they can’t afford their medical care, and where 7 million Americans last year lost their insurance cover.

However, the IEA, according to Mike, has responded to critics of NHS privatization by saying that they’re opposed patients having a choice.

Ah yes, ‘choice’. That old Thatcherite canard. I can remember being told by one of the Tory students at College that private industry provided ‘choice’. It was one of the mantras of Maggie Thatcher. Someone once asked her what the essence of Christianity was. Her answer was simple: ‘Choice’. So, nothing about salvation from sin, the healing of a broken world, the moral duty to work for the public good and create a better society, provide for the poor, the sick, disabled and marginalized. No, nothing about that. Just ‘choice’. No wonder she fell out with Archbishop Runcie and the Scots Kirk. She had no idea.

Mike concludes his piece on Hancock with the words

In fact, privatisation would force patients into insurance schemes that are unlikely ever to pay out, meaning patients would end up with no choice at all.

The IEA is a firm fan of such insurance schemes.

And our Health Secretary takes its bribes cash.

We’ll need to watch this one carefully. Will he try to use Brexit to put through his real paymasters’ plan?

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2019/01/28/how-can-we-trust-the-tory-government-when-its-ministers-behave-like-this/

It isn’t just the fact that the private insurance schemes the Tories and New Labour would love to force us all into won’t pay out that makes all the claims of ‘choice’ a farcical lie. It’s the fact that under Blair’s introduction of private medical care in the NHS, costs still have to be kept down. Blair’s reforms were based on those of the private healthcare group, Kaiserpermanente in America, which he wrongly believed provided better value for money that state-managed healthcare. Under their system, there was a special office that looked into the comparative treatment prices of different hospitals, and the patient got sent to the cheapest, regardless of what he or she personally wanted. There was no choice.

I’m not at all surprised that Hancock has been receiving money from the privatisers. All the Tories and New Labour have. The privatization of the NHS was heavily pushed by private healthcare firms like Unum under John Major and his wretched health secretary, Peter Lilley, and then under Tony Blair. Who was surrounded by any number of private healthcare companies desperate for some of that sweet, sweet NHS action. Like BUPA, Nuffield Health, Virgin Healthcare, Circle Health and others.

As for the IEA, I found a slew of their pamphlets in one of the secondhand bookshops in Cheltenham, and actually couldn’t believe how bad they were. There was one pamphlet arguing that the state can’t run industries, as shown by about 4-6 very carefully selected examples. One of them was Concorde, which did initially have a very difficult time selling the plane. However, while British aerospace companies have continued to be troubled, the French used the expertise they developed with the project to expand theirs. And Ha-Joon Chang in his book, 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism shows very clearly that the state very much can run private companies very successfully. The examples in the IEA pamphlet are obviously very carefully cherrypicked.

And I don’t think it’s just in the economic sphere that the IEA is a backward influence. Along with this pamphlet was one Liberating Women from Feminism, which I think was basically arguing that the ladies should give up any hope of having a career or equality, and go back to running the home. I’m sure some women would like to, and that’s fine if it’s their free choice and they find it fulfilling. But the majority of women these days want a career and economic parity with blokes. And the IEA’s campaign against that would leave many women without any choice, as it was until only a few decades ago. Which all shows how much they really believe in ‘choice’.

Get the IEA and the other privatizing think tanks out of politics, and Matt Hancock and Tweezer out of government. We need a real, socialist Labour government to restore the NHS. A government that has to be led by Corbyn.

Right-Wing Shill Charlie Kirk Personally Experiences Failures of America’s Private Medicine

January 26, 2019

Charlie Kirk is an American Conservative mouthpiece. A little while ago he got very angry at some public meeting his was holding with The Young Turks Cenk Uygur. Uygur committed the terrible crime of asking him how much money he was making. This set Kirk off ranting that ‘He lived like a capitalist every single day’ before rushing off the stage and apparently challenging Uygur to a fight, asking him if he ‘wanted to go’. Fortunately, he managed to calm down and return to the stage without engaging in fisticuffs.

Kirk’s on record as saying that ‘Healthcare is not a right’ and raving about how wonderful America’s private medical system is. It’s therefore highly ironic that he should have experienced its failings first hand. A few days ago Kirk’s mate, Kyle Keshuv, sent a tweet stating that he was outside Cedar Sinai hospital in LA with Kirk. Kirk had put his back out, gone down to the hospital seeking help, only to be told there were no beds available and he’d have to wait on a bench outside. The tweet carried a photo of Kirk lying on said bench, and ended with ‘Cedar Sion Hospital – Disgrace’.

In this video from The Young Turks, hosts Uygur and Ana Kasparian discuss the incident, laughing at Kirk and his comments about the superiority of American healthcare. They state that they’re only doing so because Kirk is actually now well. Sam Seder also carried the story on his show with the news that Kirk was now in the hospital. He was confined to bed, couldn’t physically stand, but still stood for freedom. The Turks in this video comment on Kirk’s apparent sense of entitlement – he doesn’t believe that people have a right to healthcare, but when it’s him in trouble, he wants to be first in the queue. He also believes that the American healthcare system could be made better through more competition lowering costs. They point out that LA has many excellent hospitals. He could, using his own logic, have gone elsewhere, and then written a bad review of his treatment at Cedar Sion hospital on Yelp.

Uygur and Kasparian defend the hospital, saying that it’s a good one. Uygur himself has taken his child down there many times. But you do have to spend a long time in queues. He also makes it clear that its failings of the American medical system that makes him support Medicare for All. He points out that the system exists in Norway and Northern Europe, and that it’s part of a mixed economy. America also has a mixed economy. Uygur also points out that he’s a capitalist, but it’s because, as a progressive, he wants everyone to have access to good healthcare that he supports Medicare for All and believes medicine should be in the state part of the equation. Everyone, even Charlie Kirk, should have proper medical care. Although Kasparian states that she thinks Kirk shouldn’t have it so much as everyone else.

I’m putting this up because it shows the failures of the American healthcare system, a system which the Tories and New Labour wish to import to Britain. Thatcher wanted to privatise the NHS completely, but was only stopped by a massive backbench rebellion. And the fact that her personal private secretary, Patrick Jenkin, returned from America pointing out how rubbish it was. But she still wanted a certain percentage of Brits to have private health insurance. And the Tories and their counterparts in the Labour party, the Blairites, have been determined to privatise the health service ever since. Alan Milburn wanted to reduce the NHS to nothing but a kite mark for privately provided services.

According to the privatisers swarming around Thatcher, Major, Blair, Cameron and Tweezer, private industry always provides better quality service than the state, even in healthcare. If you believe some of the twaddle coming from American supporters of their rubbish system, the healthcare is wonderful and you don’t have to wait to be seen. The truth is, it’s expensive, millions of Americans can’t afford private health insurance. I understand the figure is now up to 20 per cent of the population. 40,000 Americans die each year because they can’t afford proper medical care.

But you won’t hear any of this from Nuffield Health or BUPA and their adverts on the TV, nor from Virgin Healthcare or the other private healthcare firms trying to get a piece of that sweet NHS action. Nor will you hear it from Tory health secretaries, like Andrew Lansley or Jeremy Hunt. Or even from Lib Dems like Nick Clegg, who claimed that privately run healthcare, as on the continent, was associated with excellent health outcomes. Or some similar piece of bullsh*t managerial jargon.

The whole Tory/Lib Dem idea has been to run down the health service to the point where the middle class will start turning to private healthcare. The endpoint of that is the American, for-profit system, where if you’re poor, you go the Emergency Room or a charity hospital. And that’s it. It’ll return the healthcare in this country to the appalling state it was in before the Second World War. But who cares if millions of poor suffer and die through disease, so long as the private healthcare company they and their donors head makes big bucks.

Don’t believe their lies, and don’t believe that they’re not trying to privatise the health service. Stop them. Get Tweezer and the rest of the loathsome Thatcherites out, and Jeremy Corbyn and Labour in.

‘I’ Newspaper: Hundreds of Doctors Want to Leave NHS Before Retiring

January 13, 2019

The I newspaper on Friday, 11th January 2019, carried this story, ‘Hundred of Doctors Plan to Quite NHS Before Retirement Age’ by Paul Gallagher on page 11. The article reports that hundreds of senior doctors and consults wish to leave the Health Service because they feel they are overworked. The article runs

Hundreds of senior doctors will quit the NHS before retirement age, according to new analysis.

Six out of 10 consultants say that the main reason for their intention to leave the health service before the age of 60 is the need for a better work-life balance, a survey by the British Medical Association (BMA) reveals.

Concerns about the impact of current pensions legislation is the second most important factor influencing consultants’ planned retirement age, they said. Less that 7 per cent say they expect to remain working in the NHS beyond the age of 65.

Almost 18 per cent of consultants are in the process of planning to reduce their working time even further, including a complete withdrawal from service. More than 40 per cent said they were less likely to take part in work initiatives to reduce waiting lists.

The implications of such a significant loss of skilled and specialist clinicians both on the junior staff they teach and the patients they care for is potentially disastrous for the already beleaguered health service.

Dr Rob Harwood, who chairs the BMA’s consultants’ committee, said: “Such a situation is clearly untenable. During the a deepening workforce crisis, the NHS needs its most experienced and expert doctors now more than ever. I struggle to understand how the Health Secretary can talk about increasing productivity… while allowing the NHS to be a system which perversely encourages its most experienced doctors to do less work, and, in some cases, to leave when they do not want to.”

I am not surprised that this is happening in the NHS at all. There have been very many reports over the past few years about the numbers of doctors planning to leave the health service because of overwork and other issues. And I have seen zero evidence that the government intends to tackle the problem or has any interest in solving it. Beyond the current Health Secretary publicly opening his mouth to proclaim that the government will recruit tens of thousands more doctors and other medical staff, like Tweezer did with her bold ten-year plan for the NHS last week.

Mike has already put up a piece on his blog pointing out that the government has consistently and spectacularly missed its targets for cutting waiting times and recruiting more medical staff for the NHS. He also reported that when the Health Secretary was question about how he plans to recruit more personnel, he put this off, stating it was a question for another review later. So all we have from the Tories in this issue is vague promises. Promises that aren’t going to be honoured.

It looks to me very much that all this is planned, that the government is deliberately creating conditions to encourage doctors, consultants and other medical professionals in the NHS to leave, while publicly doing their level best to give the impression that they genuinely care about the Health Service.

They don’t. Since Thatcher the Tories and New Labour have been absolutely set on running down and privatizing the NHS for the benefit of private healthcare companies like the American insurance fraudster Unum, BUPA, Virgin Healthcare, Circle Healthcare and others. Journalists and activists commenting on this attack on the fundamental principles of the NHS have forecasted that ultimately we may end up with a two-tier health service. The affluent middle class will have access to excellent care from the private sector, but only, of course, if they can pay for it. The rest of us will have worse care from an underfunded and understaffed rump NHS.

If the NHS exists at all, that is. The same observers also forecast that the Tories may well be aiming to introduce the American system of private healthcare, where those who can’t pay are treated at the emergency room. And where 45,000 people a year die because they can’t afford medical treatment and the highest cause of bankruptcies is medical bills.

I’ve seen the Tories use the same tactics to decimate another part of the NHS nearly thirty years ago under Thatcher or John Major. This was the dental service. A majority of dentists left the NHS after one or other of these two Tory prime ministers refused to increase their pay and spending on their surgeries. The result is that now most dentists are private and it’s often difficult, very difficult, to find one of that will take NHS patients.

Make no mistake: the Tories plan to do this to the rest of the NHS. But it’s being done subtly, away from public attention, which they are distracting and misleading with promises to increase NHS funding and personnel recruitment. Promises which they don’t intend to honour.

Don’t Be Mislead, May and the Tories Are Still Determined to Destroy the NHS

January 8, 2019

Okay, the papers today have been full of the plan May announced yesterday that would improve the NHS over the next ten years. Apparently they’re going to increase funding by 20 billion pounds above inflation by 2023, recruiting tens of thousands of new nurses and doctors.

Mike today posted a piece ripping apart these promises. He makes the point that the Tories haven’t fulfilled their existing targets to recruit more medical staff. They have also not stated where they intend to fund the money to pump into the NHS.

More sinisterly, one key part of the programme discussed by Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock in an interview with Sophy Ridge sounded like the government is planning to blame poor health on the patients themselves. Hancock said in the interview that the government intended to shift towards helping people to stay health, to stop them getting ill as much as curing them.

Mike makes the point that this sound very much like the claims that the DWP helps people by refusing them benefit. He’s right. I think there has already been discussion of schemes whereby obese people should be refused medical treatment for diseases or conditions brought on by the condition.

Mike also makes the point that the fundamental problem of the Tories’ NHS policy is continuing regardless of their new plans. This is the privatization of the health service. Mike writes

As for privatisation – with more than £8 billion spent on private companies that have been allowed to buy into the NHS by the Conservatives since 2012, concern is high that the whole service in England is being primed for sale, to be replaced with a private insurance-based system, as poor as the schemes currently failing the citizens of the United States. These fears are supported by the fact that current NHS boss Simon Stevens used to work for a US-based health profiteer.

This new 10-year plan, it seems, is setting out to do exactly what Noam Chomsky described when discussing the steps leading to privatisation: Strip the service of funds, make sure it doesn’t work properly, wait for people to complain, and then sell it to private profit-making firms with a claim that this will improve the service.

He makes the case that the NHS will be treated exactly as the other privatized utilities – energy companies, railways, water industry and airports – stripped of funds, sold off, and owned by foreign firms to provide them with profits.

This also is true. Private Eye has reported how the Tories and New Labour were lobbied by private healthcare providers determined to gain access to the NHS, including the American private healthcare insurance fraudster, Unum.

He concludes

So you can look forward to a future in which you are blamed for any health problem that arises, and forced to pay through the nose for health insurance (that probably won’t cover your needs or won’t pay out at all, to judge by the American system).

It seems the Tories’ 10-year plan for the NHS is to trick you into an early grave.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2019/01/08/new-tory-nhs-plan-is-to-tell-you-your-health-problems-are-your-fault/

The Tories have been determined to privatise the NHS since the days of Margaret Thatcher. She wanted to privatise it completely, but was stopped by a cabinet revolt. She nevertheless wanted to encourage Brits to take out private health insurance and began cutting and privatizing NHS services. This was continued under John Major by Peter Lilley, who invented the Private Finance Initiative in order to help private corporations gain access to the NHS. It carried on and was expanded even further by Blair and New Labour, and has been taken over and further increased by the Tories since the election of Cameron back in 2010.

If it continues, the NHS will be privatized, and the quality of Britain’s healthcare will be what is in the US: appalling. The leading cause of bankruptcy in America is inability to pay medical costs. Something like 20 per cent of the US population is unable to afford private medical insurance. 45,000 people a year die because they cannot afford healthcare treatment.

A year or so ago a Conservative commenter to this blog tried to argue that the Labour party had not established the Health Service and that the Tories were also in favour of it. Now it is true that the welfare state, including the NHS, was based on the Beveridge Report of 1944. Beveridge was a Liberal, and his report was based on the information and views he had been given in turn by civil servants and other professionals. But the Health Service itself was set up by Aneirin Bevan in Clement Attlee 1945 Labour government. The Health Service’s ultimate origins lay in the 1906 Minority Report into reform of the existing healthcare services by Sidney and Beatrice Webb. The Socialist Medical Society had been demanding a nationalized system of healthcare in the 1930s, as had the Fabian Society, and this had become Labour policy in that decade. And later in the 1950s, after the NHS had been established, the Tory right again demanded its privatization on the grounds that it was supposedly too expensive. Even now this is the attitude of right-wing historians and politicians, like Corelli Barnet, who has said that the reason why Britain was unable to modernize its industry after the War like the Germans or French was because the money went instead to the NHS.

The same commenter also claimed that Britain never had a private healthcare system. This is untrue. Many hospitals were run by local councils, but there were also private charity and voluntary hospitals. And these did charge for their services.

I’ve put up pieces before about how terrible healthcare was in Britain before the NHS. Here’s another passage about the state of healthcare for Britain’s working class between the First and Second World Wars, from Eric Hopkins’ The Rise and Decline of the English Working Classes 1918-1990: A Social History (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson 1991)

The health services between the wars were still in a rudimentary state. Insurance against sickness was compulsory for all workers earning less than 160 per annum under the National Insurance Act of 1911 but the scheme did not cover the dependants of the insured, and sickness benefits when away from work were still lower than unemployment rates. Further, the range of benefits was limited, and hospital treatment was not free unless provided in poor law infirmaries. Treatment in municipal hospitals or voluntarily run hospitals still had to be paid for. The health service was run not by the Ministry of Health, but by approved societies, in practice mostly insurance societies. As a system, it suffered from administrative weaknesses and duplication of effort, and the Royal Commission on National Health Insurance 1926 recommended that the system be reformed; the Minority Report even recommended that the administration of the system be removed from the societies altogether. In 1929 the Local Government Act allowed local authorities to take over the poor law infirmaries, and to run them as municipal hospitals. Not many did so, and by 1939 about half of all public hospital services were still provided by the poor law infirmaries. By that year, it would be fair to say that there was something resembling a national health service for the working classes, but it was still very limited in scope (it might or might not include dental treatment, depending on the society concerned), and although treatment by general practitioners was free for those by the scheme, as we have seen, hospital treatment might have to be paid for. (pp. 25-6).

This what the Tories and the Blairites in New Labour wish to push us back to, although looking at that description in seems that even this amount of government provision of healthcare is too much for those wishing to privatise it completely.

The Tories’ claim to support and ‘treasure’ the NHS are lies. May is a liar, and has already lied about putting money into the NHS. I remember how She claimed that they were going to increase funding, while at the same time stating that the NHS would still be subject to cuts. And I don’t doubt that she intends to take this plan anymore seriously. It doesn’t mean anything. Look how she declared that austerity had ended, only to carry on pursuing austerity.

Defend the NHS. Get Tweezer and the Tories out, and Corbyn and Labour in.

John Quiggin on the Absolute Failure of Trickle-Down Economics

January 8, 2019

John Quiggin is an economics professor at the university of Queensland Down Under. His 2010 book, Zombie Economics, is a very thorough demolition of the economic theories that have formed the current dogma since the election of Thatcher and Reagan in 1979 and 1980.

One of the theories he refutes is ‘trickle-down’ economics. This is theory that if you act to give more wealth to the rich through tax cuts, deregulation and privatization, this wealth will trickle down to benefit those at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder. It was one of the central planks of Thatcherism. And even in the 1980s, it’s effectiveness was highly dubious. I remember watching a documentary about it on the Beeb, which illustrated the theory with a pyramid of champagne glasses. When the glasses at the top of the pyramid were filled to overflowing, the champagne flowed down to the glasses lower down. So, Thatcher and her cronies claimed, their programme of free market economics would benefit everyone in society by enriching those at the top, from whom it would trickle down to the rest of us. If I remember correctly, the programme itself argued this wasn’t happening. And it hasn’t since. on pages 155 to 157 Quggin shows how the policy has not worked in America, and in fact the poor are massively poorer off. He writes

The experience of the United States during the decades of market liberalism, from the 1970s until the Global Financial Crisis, gives little support for the trickle-down view. The gross domestic product of the United States grew solidly in this period, if not as rapidly as during the Keynesian postwar boom. More relevantly to the trickle-down hypothesis , the incomes and wealth of the richest Americans grew spectacularly. Incomes at the fifth percentile of the income distribution doubled and those for the top 0.1 per cent quadrupled.

By contrast, the gains to households in the middle of the income distribution have been much more modest. As shown in figure 4.2, real median household income rose from forty-five thousand dollars to just over fifty thousand dollars between 1973 (the last year of the long postwar expansion) and 2008. The annual rate of increase was 0.4 per cent.

For those at the bottom of the income distribution, there have been no gains at all. Real incomes for the lower half of the distribution have stagnated. The same picture emerges if we look at wages. Median real earning for full-time year-round male workers have not grown since 1974. For males with high school education or less, real wages have actually declined. According to estimates made by the Economic Policy Institute, the average annual earnings of twenty-five to twenty-nine-year-old high school graduates, expressed in 2005 values, fell from #30,900 in 1970 to $25,90 in 2000, and have stagnated since then.

Since 2000, median household incomes have actually fallen, the first time in modern history that such a decline has taken place over a full business cycle. One result can be seen by looking at the proportion of households living below the poverty line. The poverty rate declined steadily during the postwar Keynsian era. It has remained essentially static since 1970, falling in booms, but rising again in recessions.

Unlike most developed countries, the United States has a poverty line fixed in terms of absolute consumption levels and based on an assessment of a poverty-line food budget undertaken in 1963. The proportion of Americans below this fixed poverty line fell from 25 per cent in the late 1950s to 11 percent in 1974. Since then it has fluctuated, reaching 13.2 percent in 2008, a level that is certain to rise further as a result of the financial crisis and recession now taking place. Since the poverty line has remained unchanged, this means that the real incomes accruing to the poorest ten percent of Americans have fallen over the last thirty years.

These outcomes are reflected in measures of the numbers of Americans who lack access to the basics of life: food, shelter, and adequate medical care.

In 2008, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics quoted by the Food Research Action Center, 49.1 million Americans live in households classified as “food insecure”, meaning that they lacked access to enough food to fully meet basic needs at all times due to lack of financial resources. Slightly more than 17 million people (17.3 million) lived in households that were considered to have “very low food security”, which means that one or more people in the household were hungry over the course of the year because of the inability to afford enough food. This number had doubled since 2000 and has almost certainly increased further as a result of the recession.

The number of people without health insurance rose steadily over the period of market liberalism, both in absolute terms and as a proportion of the population, reaching a peak of 46 million, or 15 percent of the population. Among the insured, an increasing proportion was reliant on government programs. The traditional model of employment-based private health insurance, which was developed as part of the New Deal, and covered most of the population during the Keynesian era, was eroded to the point of collapse.

Homelessness is almost entirely a phenomenon of the era of market liberalism. During the decade of full employment, homelessness was confined to a tiny population of transients, mostly older males with mental health and substance abuse problems. By contrast, in 2007, 1.6 million people spent time in homeless shelters, and about 40 percent of the homeless population were families with children.

The experience of the United States in the era of market liberalism was as thorough a refutation of the trickle-down hypothesis as can reasonably be imagined. The well off have become better off, and the rich have become super-rich. Despite impressive technological progress, those in the middle of the income distributions struggled to stay in place, and those at the bottom became worse-off in crucial respects.

(My emphasis).

Bernie Sanders in his book described just how severe the crisis in private American medical care was. It almost collapsed completely in certain states because a very large number of patients are simply unable to afford medical treatment.

And the same situation prevails here in Britain, with increasing poverty here in Britain. Millions of households now live below the poverty line, a quarter of million people need food banks to keep body and soul together, including working people with families. As Mike pointed out in a piece last week, parents are now starving themselves in order to fee their children.

The NHS is also in crisis, though for different but related reasons to those in the US. It’s in crisis because of massive funding cuts by the Tories over the last decade, and the determination of both Tory and New Labour administrations to privatise it by stealth. The introduction of private enterprise into the NHS actually raises costs, not diminishes them. It’s for the simple reason that private firms have to make a profit to pass on to their shareholders. Plus private firms also have bureaucracies of their own, which in some instances can take up 44 per cent of the firm’s income.

And added to this there is a massive increase in homelessness. But don’t worry! Yesterday, the I newspaper published a piece from the Economist telling millennials to cheer up, because in the future they’ll be able to afford their own home. Which sounds very much like simple propaganda for the current economic orthodoxy, rather than a realistic, credible prediction.

Free market capitalism has failed, despite what the press and media is trying to tell us. The Conservatives responsible for its adoption should be thrown out of government, and the Blairites who introduced it into Labour should be forced out of the positions of power they seek to monopolise. If not expelled altogether as Thatcherite entryists.

We need a genuine, socialist Labour government to clean this mess up. A government which must be led by Jeremy Corbyn.

Corbyn Attacks May for Laughing at Poor Wage Growth

December 5, 2018

This is a great little video from RT. It’s only less than half a minute long, but it shows Jeremy Corbyn tearing into Theresa May for laughing about the smallness of the rise in wages.

Corbyn says

The chief economist at the Bank of England describes the last decade as a lost decade for wages and well the Prime Minister might laugh at this, it’s the reality of peoples’ lives! It’s the reality of peoples’ lives!

It ends with the House in uproar and Bercow crying “Order! Order!”

But Corbyn’s right, as you can see when the video shows May and her wretched gang shaking their heads with their stupid, facetious smiles on their face. They’re no doubt trying to show that they don’t take his accusation seriously, but it instead shows that Corbyn is absolutely right. They don’t take ordinary peoples’ misery seriously. You could see that on a previous video, where Cameron and Iain Duncan Smith had a good guffaw as one woman told her story of how the bedroom tax had left her in poverty and despair. And May herself has done this before, when Corbyn has read out the letters he’s had from people describing how they’ve been left worse off – much worse off – due to the government’s benefit cuts.

They have no sympathy for the poor. Not a shred. All the care about is cutting taxes for the rich. Ordinary people are simply raw material for corporate capitalism, either as a workforce, who are to be kept on low wages to increase profits, or as consumers to be exploited. Like when the government privatizes the healthcare and educational systems, so that private medical firms and academy chains can get big profits from government contracts before the whole lot is privatized completely and they can exploit everyone through private hospital and insurance charges and school fees.

That snide, smug grin is the real face of Tweezer and her cabinet. They’ve got to go. All of them. NOW!

‘I’ Newspaper and Sunday Times Claim David Miliband May Lead Blairite ‘Centrist’ Party

November 12, 2018

Today’s I newspaper for the 12th November 2018 also ran an article following a piece in yesterday’s Sunday Times, which suggested that the launch of the new, Blairite ‘centrist’ party is coming nearer, and that David Miliband, the brother of the former Labour leader Ed, may return to Britain to head it. The article by Richard Vaughan stated

David Miliband is mulling a return to frontline politics as head of a new centrist party, it has emerged.

Plans are under way to launch a fresh political party, with speculation mounting it could be just months away.

Labour MPs, unhappy with the direction of the party under Jeremy Corbyn, are believed to be in talks about forging a breakaway party from the centre ground and looking at Mr. Miliband to lead it.

According to the Sunday Times, the former foreign secretary is eyeing a return to London, having spent the last four years running the aid charity, the International Rescue Committee in New York.

The newspaper also reported that Mr. Miliband met prominent Labour donors Sir Trevor Chinn and Jonathan Goldstein.

His decision to leave UK politics followed his unexpected defeat to his brother Ed for the Labour leadership in 2010. Mr. Miliband sparked rumours of a return in the summer wyhen he said in an interview that he brought PG Tips and Marmite back to his home in the US, adding: “Of course I’ll come back. It’s my home. I’m British.”

Centrist Labour backbenchers still view Mr. Miliband as the “king over the water”, harbouring hopes that he will step back into the political limelight under a new party.

It comes amid persistent reports that Tony Blair is in discussions to create a new party, with suggestions that his one-time political apprentice could take on the job of leading it. Another favourite to lead such a party is the former business secretary Chuka Umunna, who has been one of the most vocal critics of the Labour leadership.

Should there be any chance of a new centrist party being established in time for a general election before Britain leaves the EU, then it would have to be launched before the end of January.

Under parliamentary procedure, 28 January is the latest possible date that an election can be called before Brexit day on 29 March. (p. 15).

Okay, there’s a lot to unpack here. Let’s get started. Firstly, the source of this bit of speculation – and speculation is all it is, rather than news – is the Sunday Times. This is the entirely trustworthy establishment paper, owned by the honest, deeply moral newspaper magnate, Rupert Murdoch, that libeled Mike as an anti-Semite last year. And it is this paper, which is repeating the nonsensical smear that the former Labour leader, Michael Foot, was a KGB spy. Despite the fact that when they ran this story 20 or so years ago, Foot defended his name in the courts, sued ’em for libel, and won. One of the reasons the rag is repeating the smear is because Foot’s dead, and the dead can’t sue for libel. But there is no further corroborating evidence, the charge is still malicious nonsense, and the editor publishing this is still a complete slimeball. In my opinion, of course.

Now let’s attack the claims about the proposed ‘centrist’ party, which might have members from ‘centrist’ Labour MPs. Firstly, there is nothing centrist about the Labour right. They are Thatcherite infiltrators, who follow their former leader Tony Blair, in rejecting socialism and embracing Thatcherite neoliberalism. Thatcher hailed Blair as her greatest achievement. The Blairites thus stand for more privatization, including that of the NHS, and a similar attack on the welfare state and workers’ rights. Blair and his cronies continued Thatcher’s policy of ‘less eligibility’, taken over from the workhouses, to make applying for benefits as difficult and humiliating as possible in order to deter people from claiming them. And I personally know people who didn’t sign on when they unemployed, because of the degrading way they were treated. It was the Blairites too, who introduced the work capability tests for those applying for disability benefit. This was on the advice of the American insurance fraudsters, Unum, based on spurious medical research, which has been criticized as scientific nonsense. Again, this was following the Tories. Unum had been advising Peter Lilley, when he was their health secretary in the 1990s. Lilley introduced the Private Finance Initiative as a deliberate policy to open up the health service to private enterprise. And this was following Thatcher, who would have liked to privatise the NHS wholesale, but was only prevented by a cabinet revolt. As for the unemployed, the Blairites’ contempt for the jobless was clearly shown more recently when one of them – can’t remember whether it was Rachel Phillips or Reed, said a few years ago that if Labour got into power, they would be even harder on the unemployed than the Tories. Which is a very good argument for making reselection of MPs in the party mandatory.

The Labour centrists are nothing of the kind. They are actually extreme right. The real moderates are Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour left, who are a return to the Social Democratic politics of the traditional Labour party. They are definitely not ‘Communists’, ‘Trotskyites’, ‘Stalinists’ or whatever other insults Joan Ryan and the press hurl at them.

Now let’s analyze this ‘centrist’ party that the press have been speculating about for nearly a year. At the moment, it has zero policies and precious few members. One of those, who was part of the project, fell out with the others and left. The early newspaper reports stated that it was being launched with the aid of donors. This should ring warning bells with everyone concerned with the corruption of today’s corporate state. Blair’s Labour party was a part of the corporate takeover of politics. They took funds from corporate donors, like David Sainsbury, and put them into government posts, where they influenced government policy to their benefit. George Monbiot describes the way this corrupted the Labour government and its policies in his book, Captive State. It looks like the centrist party, if it is ever launched, will be intended to maintain the dominance of corporate power over the political parties, against Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour party, which has actually expanded its membership to become the largest socialist party in Europe and which actually represents the wishes of grassroots members. Its other policy seems to be that Britain should remain in the EU. I believe this, but the party otherwise represents too much of a threat to ordinary people’s lives, health and livelihoods to ever be worth voting for.

The party’s Blairite foundations also mean it is going to be Atlanticist in geopolitical orientation. That is, it will support America and American policies. Blair and the other architects of New Labour were members of BAP, or the British-American Project for the Successor Generation. This was a Reaganite project to recruit future political and media leaders, give them sponsored study trips to America, so that they would return staunch supporters of the Atlantic alliance. Blair’s pro-American stance could clearly be seen by the way many of the companies lining up to run Britain’s privatized industries or manage what was left of the state sector, including the NHS, were American. Miliband is part of this. I really don’t think it’s any accident that he scarpered off to America after he lost the leadership contest to his brother. And Blair’s own extreme right-wing views is shown by the fact that he accepted an invitation to attend an American Conservative convention at the request of former president George Bush.

The other policy is likely to be staunch support for Israel and its continuing ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. I don’t know who Jonathan Goldstein is, but one of the possible funders of the new party, Trevor Chinn, was revealed a few months ago as one of the big donors to the Israeli lobby in the Labour party, giving money to Labour Friends of Israel. He’s one of the people behind the Israel lobbyists and their smears of anyone standing up for the Palestinians as anti-Semites. These smears are vile, libelous and deeply offensive. Those smeared as anti-Semites include not just non-Jewish anti-racists, like Mike, but also self-respecting secular and Torah-observant Jews, like Jackie Walker, Martin Odoni, Tony Greenstein and so on. Some of those they’ve smeared are the children of Holocaust survivors, and people, who’ve suffered real racist and anti-Semitic attacks.

If launched, this supposedly centrist party will represent nothing but corporate greed, especially of transatlantic multinationals. Oh yes, and support for the Likudniks and other members of Benjamin Netanyahu’s increasingly Fascistic government coalition, and their persecution of Israel’s indigenous Arabs. It will not support the welfare state, the NHS or the rights of British working people to decent jobs, working conditions, dignity and pay.

That’s if this wretch party ever gets launched at all. It’s been debated for about year now, and the Labour right have been threatening to desert the party and found a new one for even longer. So far, fortunately, they haven’t done so. And it’s possible they never will. Mike over at Vox Political published a piece a little while ago pointing out that new parties find it very difficult to establish themselves as major forces in politics. UKIP was founded in the 1990s, and despite decades of hard campaigning, it’s still -fortunately – pretty much a fringe party. And some of us can remember the Labour party split in the 1980s, when the right-wing rebels left to form the SDP. There was much noise then about them ‘breaking the mould’ of British politics. The result was that they had no more than a handful of MPs, and after forming an alliance with the Liberals then merged with them to become the Lib Dems. Which remains smaller than either Labour or the Tories.

As for right-wing Labour MPs splitting off on their own, Mike showed very clearly why they wouldn’t really want to do that, either. Independents also struggle to get themselves elected. If they ever left the party to run as independents, they’d almost certainly lose their seats at the next election.

The centrist party will thus very likely be a complete non-starter, funded by businessmen to maintain their power over British politics at the expense of the NHS, the welfare state and working people, and preserve British alliance with right-wing parties and business elites in America and Israel. But it is being touted by the newspapers like the Sunday Times and the I, because they fear and hate Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party, and see it as a way of destroying it and the chance of real change for working people in this country.